Merlin’s Rest British Pie Week and More

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This week in the Tap: British savory pies get their due at Merlin’s Rest, and a local chai company introduces a grab-and-go product.

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Courtesy of Gray Duck Chai
Courtesy of Gray Duck Chai

Gray Duck Chai (launching ready-to-drink burnt sugar-ginger chai lattes)

Gray Duck Chai has made a sizable splash in the local non-alcoholic beverage market by offering high-end, locally made spiced tea concentrates to the general public. Now that dastardly “mix, stir, and serve” barrier between you and a chai latte has been broken down: the company recently began selling a 12-oz., premixed chai concentrate and organic milk product (pictured above) in local stores.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

“I really like it because with the concentrate you kind of leave [the flavor] to chance. You hand it off to people, and they mix it themselves,” says Gray Duck’s Katey Niebur (above, left). “With this one, we’re able to blend them exactly how we want it — the control freak in me likes that. And people love grab-and-go. We’ve heard from people we’ve worked with at the co-ops that the busiest part of the store at a lot of co-ops is the grab-and-go section.”

The milk in the grab-and-go Gray Duck comes from Organic Valley. “Locally there aren’t a lot of options for homogenized organic milk,” says Niebur. “Because we’re blending it, we do need it homogenized. But we’re really hoping we can go to a local producer [in the future].”

The first flavor of ready-to-drink Gray Duck is a burnt-sugar ginger blend, and it’s available in stores including The Wedge, Kowalski’s, the Linden Hills Co-op, and Oxendale’s Market.

Courtesy of Merlin's Rest
Courtesy of Merlin’s Rest

Merlin’s Rest (Celebrating British Pie Week March 2-8)

The savory pie is as much a part of British pub cuisine as fish and chips or bangers and mash. But it’s still a relative oddity here in the American Midwest, where pie conjures up instant visions of apples and ice cream.

A Longfellow-based bar and restaurant is working on the problem. Merlin’s Rest, a local spot known as much for its U.K.-inspired cuisine as for its essentially unabridged whiskey bible and unreservedly savage pub quiz, launched its fourth annual British Pie Week last night. “This year we have five different savory pies and one sweet pie,” says general manager Tracie Munce. “We offer the same pies all week long.”

The pies are wrapped in puff pastry, and can be ordered ahead of time if you’re interested in carting them home and freezing them for future enjoyment.

Munce shared the pie roll call on us, and it’s a doozy: “The special, the favorite — we only make it once a year — is the lamb rogan josh,” she says. “That’s made with New Zealand grass-fed lamb. And then I have a chicken and mushroom made with crimini and button mushrooms. There’s ham and cheese. There’s a vegetarian pie — it’s a sweet potato chili pie, probably one of the best chilis I’ve ever tasted, to be honest. And the last one we’re doing is a Sunday pork roast. Traditionally in England you always have Sunday roasts. We put that into a pie. It’s a pork loin with carrots, potatoes, parsnips, and then Strongbow gravy.”

The pies range in price from $7 to $8.50, and if you’d like sweet pie for dessert after your savory pie, don’t despair; the restaurant’s offering a lemon curd and ricotta cream cheese pie as well.


Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table
Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table


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Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
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Greater Twin Cities Area and Beyond

The Tap is the Heavy Table’s guide to area restaurant openings, closings, and other major events. The Tap is compiled and published biweekly by the Heavy Table. If you have tips for The Tap, please email James Norton at